The reason is not what you are expecting. It's because maybe if he had been forced to take Intro Economics, the 12th President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago, who is a specialist in money and macro, who has a CV that creams mine 100 times over, would not be making mistakes like this. (H/T Andy Harless via Scott Sumner).
"To sum up, over the long run, a low fed funds rate must lead to consistent—but low—levels of deflation."
That could be interpreted two ways: a wrong way, and maybe, just maybe, a right way.
"When real returns are normalized, inflationary expectations could well be negative, and there may still be a considerable amount of structural unemployment. If the FOMC hews too closely to conventional thinking, it might be inclined to keep its target rate low. That kind of reaction would simply re-enforce the deflationary expectations and lead to many years of deflation."
Nope. He definitely meant it the wrong way. If the economy returns to normal, and the natural rate of interest rises, the Fed must raise its target rate of interest. (So far so good). If it doesn't, the result would be....deflation. ("Inflation" would be the right answer).
I never did understand how the Fed makes decisions. But if the President of the Minneapolis Fed, and people like him, have any sort of power over monetary policy, we ( OK, Americans especially, but probably Canadians too, getting caught by the implosion) are so totally screwed.
I notice he has an undergraduate in maths, then went straight into a PhD in economics. My conjecture: I bet he never took Intro Economics, or anything vaguely similar. I bet he waded straight into the mathematical deep end. And so he never really learned economics. So he took the Fisher identity (nominal interest rates = real interest rates + expected inflation), added monetary super-neutrality (equilibrium real rates are independent of monetary policy in the long run), and ran with it. He never distinguished between the equilibrium thought-experiment and the stability thought-experiment. If you explain this in words, as you have to in Intro Economics, you have to get it right.
We should never, ever, let students do this. Yet we do it all the time.
And this is also why we should never frame monetary policy in terms of interest rates. If this guy can't understand it, maybe some average people will get it wrong sometimes too, and have things going in the wrong direction
Sometimes I despair of my discipline. And for my economy.